It takes a village.....Build the village

I've led a volunteer-based, non-school tutor/mentor program in Chicago for more than 30 years where we connect inner city kids with volunteers who live beyond poverty and model jobs and careers and education levels not consistently modeled in high poverty neighborhoods. In recent research, this is called "bridging capital".

I have created a library of information to help people understand the challenges of living in poverty, and how this effects learning, school performance and high school drop out rates. I've also piloted uses of maps and visualizations to help people think of strategies that would build comprehensive, long-term first grade to career support networks in every high poverty neighborhood, supported by the business community, the faith community, and others who are potential assets to this solution.

This graphic illustrates that some of us (parents, teachers, social workers, volunteers, etc.) are pushing kids to make good decisions. All kids make bad decisions some of the time, regardless of their income and social status. However, the poverty maps show places where bad decisions lead to life-long negative consequences because the adult network to help you overcome a bad decision is not as strong as it is in more affluent areas. A volunteer-based tutor/mentor program is a village of people who can expand the support network for kids, if it is available to them in their neighborhood.

I encourage you to read the blog articles we write each week, and look at the maps we create to support the involvement of individuals and organizations in all of the high poverty areas of Chicago.

The future of education won't change until more people get personally involved in helping to build and sustain the infrastructure that supports individual kids as the move from first grade to middle school to high school, college then jobs. This concept map illustrates this path, and the range of age appropriate supports needed around every child, at every level.

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Comment by Daniel Bassill on March 14, 2009 at 6:37am
I encourage you to visit the groups page at to see some animated versions of these ideas, created by interns from the University of Michigan and IIT, by way of Korea and India. This shows how students from many different places can help us create learning technologies and the marketing tools to motivate kids, volunteers, adults and policy makers to connect.

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